Monday, June 11, 2012

#GardenCuizine #Recipe: Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie
Mama's favorite all time dessert is Key Lime pie. I always make this for her in honor of her June 11th birthday as her "birthday cake".  Light and delicious, Key Lime pie has just enough tart and sweet to please just about anyone's taste-buds. Fresh lime juice offers high Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, folic acid and iron. And, pectin found in citrus, may also help lower cholesterol.

You can squeeze your own Key Limes (Citrus aurantifolia) or Nellie and Joe's famous Key Lime store-bought juice works great too. Key limes are smaller than regular limes and can take longer to juice so I often use Nellie and Joe's for convenience. Key limes are also very seasonal and can be hard to find, depending on when you want them. I found key limes in the market today (June) with no problem. Juicing Key limes is fun, but can be labor intensive. A ricer (used for making mashed potatoes) can help to speed up the pressing and squeezing.

Quick and Easy
Key lime pie is quick and easy-to-make. Nellie and Joe's famous Key lime pie recipe is printed on their bottle label as well as on their website. Their tried and true recipe makes actually more of a tart, since it fills a 9" pie plate about halfway. But I like it because it leaves room around the top for garnishing the pie with either meringue or rosettes of fresh whipped cream.  

A few mouthfuls of Key lime pie's creamy, sweet and tangy taste is a sensation that keeps Key lime lovers coming back for more. And from a health standpoint, one modest size serving of this dessert seems to satisfy most people without the excessive high calories and fat typically found in over-sized, portions of commercially made fruit pies with crust. 

Chefs tip: Green food coloring is a No No!!! I used to add a teeny tiny dab of Kelly green icing color to mine and one time I accidentally added to much, needless to say, it was noticeable and I was booed from my culinary friends and family. Traditional Key lime pie is NEVER colored, it should be pale yellow.

Pie Crust 

1 pkg graham crackers (low-fat crackers; 8 full cracker sheets) OR 20 ginger snap cookies mixed with 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal 

4 Tablespoons melted no-salt butter or Smart Balance spread OR for a low fat crust, use 2 tablespoons melted Smart Balance and about 1/4 cup (or less) orange juice.

Key Lime Filling (the recipe on Nellie and Joe's is a winner)
zest of ~5 Key limes (optional)
1/2 cup Key West Lime juice fresh squeezed or Nellie and Joe's
one, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
3 egg yolks

Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
powdered sugar to taste
zest of one lime  

Garnish (optional)
1 Kiwifruit peeled and sliced
2 Key limes sliced seeds removed
edible blooms hand selected from your garden (shown: we had yellow mizuna blooms and purplish leaves of red shiso perilla; I couldn't find our mint, which may have been nice too, really anything edible from the garden adds a nice touch.)
Putting it all together

First make the Crust:

Of course, for convenience, you can buy a ready made graham crust, but beware of high fructose corn syrup and other non-desirable ingredients. Homemade gives you choice and control of the ingredients; plus, making your own allows you to use your own pie plate. 
  • In a food processor blend one package of graham crackers to fine crumbs or ginger snaps with or without grape nuts cereal. If you don't want to use grape nuts cereal, just use more ginger snaps, or you can use any cookie. Over the years I've tried Oreo's and Nilla Wafers too.  I usually use whatever we have around. The pie I made today, for Mom's birthday, had 20 ginger snaps and one cup of grape nuts cereal ground up in a food processor. Our food processor was bouncing away...I think we may need a new food processor - the snaps and grape nuts were both crunchy and gave our old processor a workout!!
  • Put ground crumbs or whatever you decided to use into a medium size bowl; add the melted butter or Smart Balance. Use your hands to mix it well. Crumbs should hold together when squeezed. If not, simply add a tiny bit of orange juice or water and mix with hands; then squeeze-test again. This avoids adding more butter, which adds fat. 
  • Press crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of a pie plate and up the sides.
  • Pre-bake crust for 5-7 minutes so it isn't soggy when you add the filling.
  • Technically, a graham cracker crust does not need to be baked, but I like to bake it in a 350°F oven just until the edges begin to lightly toast.
  • Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
Key Lime Filling:
  • Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth and well blended. I use a plastic spatula to mix and usually mix together the yolks and condensed milk first before stirring in the lime juice.
  • Pour filling into cooled prepared crust. Spread evenly.
Keylime pie was originally a no-bake pie, but over the years, because of concerns about food safety and enough coagulation of the eggs, most people (myself included) prefer to bake it.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack
  • Refrigerate until ready to decorate
  • Decorate: I usually add a border of whipped cream rosettes and garnish with fresh lime slices after the pie is baked and chilled.
  • To make whipped cream, just whisk together the cream, sugar and zest until piping consistency. Fill pastry bag with a star tip and have fun!
Related Links
Thinking About Key Lime Pie's Beginnings 
Mexican Key Limes
Kiwifruit Dave's Garden article by Diana Wind

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2012 Wind. All Rights Reserved. Revised 6/22/14.

No comments: